Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for Queenslanders to overcome their widespread "phobia" of dams in order to ensure the stable development of the state's agricultural sector.
During a community luncheon held in the central Queensland city of Rockhampton, Abbott said dam construction would play a critical role in the future development of the Australian economy, and the country’s agriculture industry in particular.
“If we’re going to have a good agricultural sector we need the resource, and the resource agriculture needs above all else is water,” he said. “So we do need to overcome the dam phobia which was affected our country for the best of three decades.”
Abbott’s remarks coincide with a push for the construction of a large dam at The Gap on the Fitzroy River, situated to the west of Rockhampton.
Queensland Senator Matt Canavan and Lower House MP’s Michelle Landry and Ken O’Dowd conducted a flyover tour of the Fitzroy River Basin several days prior to Abbott’s visit to Rockhampton in order to look at a potential sites for dam building.
The trio of federal politicians will deliver a report on the matter to Treasurer Joe Hockey later this month.
Local politicians have also given their support to the proposed Fitzroy Riverdam, as well as the involvement of members of the federal parliament in the project.
“For any project, whether it’s a mining project or a gas project or a community project, water is an essential item,” said Isaac Mayor Anne Baker. “It’s very encouraging to have the federal members attend Moranbah to talk about critical issues in particular around water and potential dam sites.”
“For any project, whether it’s a mining project or a gas project or a community project, water is an essential item.”
The Rockhampton Regional Council believes the construction of another dam on the Fitzroy Basin, which is the second largest river catchment in Australia, would be of benefit to entire region.
“We’re confident that another dam on the Fitzroy Basin will only contribute to and enhance the reliability of water supply and the opportunities for the use of water throughout the Rockhampton area and indeed the central Queensland region,” said Greg Belz, chairman of the council’s water committee.
The new dam is on a shortlist of 30 potential dam projects delivered to Abbott in September by a ministerial task force headed by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.
The Coalition made the building of more dams a key part of its federal election campaign last year, during which Abbott billed himself as an infrastructure Prime Minister in waiting.